September 07, 2016

Artist Collaboration: Justin Rothshank

I remember my first craft brew, an IPA that shocked me with its biting depth, a mouth-bending contrast to the easygoing lagers I usually sipped. I remember the dim lighting, the bits and bobs of early-20s living in my friend’s front room that night. I remember laughing, talking about Very Important Things, and the way that IPA seemed to open a door into a new world.

A few short years later I sat in a bar across town. I think I was still in my amber ale phase. Humanity, a co-worker and I watched as the Twin Towers fell and the world changed forever.

These aren’t two memories I would generally pair, but as will happen with a well-crafted work of art, a hand slipcast growler brought them together, and with it a re-imagined perspective on these two seemingly unrelated stories.

In 2006, award-winning ceramicist Justin Rothshank began experimenting with ceramic decals in his work, applying images that resonated with him personally. At the same time, humanity watched again as Afghanistan buckled under the weight of a new conflict.

Compelled by a desire to create pieces with a political and social message, Justin began designing ceramic decals of “violent” images related to the war and applied them to the most wholesome of ceramic canvases, the dinnerware set. They spoke to his opposition of the war, yet he found they lacked beauty, a light to balance the dark context.

And then he found an image of a soldier in a poppy field.

 Soldier in a Poppy Field- Justin Rothshank Ceramics

As with so many things, it’s the unexpected and meaningful, what connects us rather than divides us that sticks around for the long haul, and the poppy has long been synonymous with life, death and remembrance, a symbol honoring the lost and a hope for rebirth. Justin had found beauty in the chaos.

Justin Rothshank Poppy Dinnerware 

He began working with the image as a design seed, applying it to his work as a background and horizon line, rendering the complexities of the hopeful bright of the flowers against the grainy, sand-tinted camo of the soldier.

He captured this thought-provoking contrast by printing ceramic decals in sepia, representing a dying or dead poppy field, with pops of lively red flowers in full bloom. The layered design provided a versatility in color, while complimenting both horizontal and vertical mediums.

From there, Justin developed a design aesthetic that extended beyond the boundaries of war, focusing on the larger contextual beauty of the natural world through floral landscapes.

 Justin Rothshank Growlers in Process

Poppy Growlers by Justin Rothshank

Beginning with the PGC ceramic growler you’ve come to love, we collaborated with Justin Rothshank to create a collection of three growlers, featuring his iconic poppy decals. The results are both beautiful and unexpected.

With the naturally cooling ceramic body and tight-sealing flip-top lid that make a PGC growler perfect for any brew, these new offerings come in our stunning Gloss Blue and striking Satin Grey, with Justin’s signature poppies. And our Gloss White glaze makes for a clean white background on his third design highlighting roses on one side, with a poppy on the other.

All three represent our love for the best in craft, conversation-starting design, and growlers built to carry the beers behind your stories.

And stay tuned for our upcoming post about Justin’s partnership with his friends at Indiana’s own Goshen Brewery, where he creates exclusive growlers, tap handles, and mugs. We look forward to catching up with the team at Goshen for a beer-infused peek at the stories they brew.

In the meantime, you can shop our new Justin Rothshank collection here.

Ceramic Poppy Growlers